Posts Tagged ‘thanksgiving’

Used with permission by author Kathryn Marcellino, OCDS  of  CatholicSpiritualDirection.org.

First of all, let me sincerely wish all of you celebrating Thanksgiving, a very Happy Thanksgiving. Whether spending Thanksgiving Day with family, friends or alone this year, we all have something very important to be thankful for and that is the greatest gift of all, God himself.
These are difficult times for many of us, but St. Teresa of Avila reminds us that, “God alone suffices.”

Even if our finances are failing, or family and friends are not around, or our health is not what it could be, we can still rightly give thanks for the greatest gift of all which is Jesus Christ, the Lord. And this gift can never be taken away from us.

St. Columba’s ancient Irish melody reminds us:
“The King of love my shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am his, And he is mine forever.”

Do not worry or be afraid

Jesus reassures us in our struggles and tells us we do not need to worry. Matt 6:31-34, “So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”
To experience the benefits of the greatest gift of all, who is God himself, we need to take time to raise our mind and hearts to God in prayer, thanksgiving and praise. We can do this by spending some quality time alone with God in prayer, meditation, spiritual reading and daily Mass if possible. We also need to seek God’s kingship over us (Matt. 6) by learning God’s will and doing it.
We often have many challenges in life. Prayer can be like a little vacation that gives us the power, strength and grace to face all that comes our way. In prayer we not only speak to God, but can listen to God to hear any directions or inspirations. We are never really alone because God is always with us. He is as accessible as a prayer and opening our heart to him.

Be thankful in all circumstances

Every day, but especially on Thanksgiving Day, let’s take time to “be thankful in all circumstances” as St. Paul tells us. Our true home and family is the Kingdom of God. All that we are now going through is passing and changeable, but inside we can be at peace as God is there. He is knocking at the door of our heart waiting for us to open it and let him in. He loves us and wants to be with us.
Do you focus on what is not going well (either your own problems or in the news)? One idea is turn off the TV or internet and spend some of that time in pray and focusing on God and good things. Having a spiritual rule of life is a good idea. (If interested this is covered in the “Seeking Union with God” Online Personal Spiritual Formation Course.)
Keeping our focus on God and the ultimate perspective of life will keep us on the right track. And if we have gotten off-track, and are not experiencing God’s peace inside, God is inviting us at this very moment with open arms to return to him as in the story of the Prodigal Son. Making a good confession can be a new beginning if we’ve been away. There is nothing that can give us as much peace as making a good confession and hearing the words of the Prayer of Absolution from the priest: “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of His Son has reconciled the world to Himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; Through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Experiencing God’s peace includes giving thanks

Experiencing inner peace is possible even when times are tough. We know that St. Paul did not always have things easy. In fact he was severely beaten for proclaiming the Gospel, and experienced hunger and other discomforts including martyrdom, and yet he could write in the midst of his sufferings the following passage. (By the way, the Scripture passage below if one of my favorites. It has a lot of great wisdom in almost every line, so I encourage you to read it and really think about what it says.)
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you. I rejoice greatly in the Lord that now at last you revived your concern for me. You were, of course, concerned about me but lacked an opportunity. Not that I say this because of need, for I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself, to be self-sufficient. I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me. Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.” Philippians 4:4-14

The Catechism of the Catholic Church also says in #2638 “As in the prayer of petition, every event and need can become an offering of thanksgiving. The letters of St. Paul often begin and end with thanksgiving, and the Lord Jesus is always present in it: ‘Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’; ‘Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.’ ”

Inner peace is not only a gift but a decision

What I learn from the above teachings is that even if things are seemingly not going well outside of me, I can decide and learn with the help of God’s grace to get things together inside of me, to give thanks to God and have inner peace even to the point of giving thanks and rejoicing. It reminds me of what a Carmelite priest once said, “If you’ve left peace, you’ve left God.”
Jesus came to give us his peace, love and joy and these cannot be taken from us by anything if we don’t let them. An example of this is St. Ignatius of Loyola, who struggled hard to found the Jesuits. He said that if the pope ordered him disband his Society, he would need only fifteen minutes in prayer to compose himself and be on his way.
One secret of staying in God’s peace, is to not selfishly cling to anything including needing things our way. This is called detachment. Sometimes we need to let things go in order to have what God might want to give in their place. And sometimes we need to stay where we are but just change our inner attitude. St. Catherine of Siena found a refuge inside of her heart where God dwells, a cell in her heart, which she described as like being in the calmness of a depths of the ocean even when the waves on the surface were rough and choppy.


St. Paul tells us to rejoice always and giving thanks to God no matter what is happening outside of us. He says to, “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” To have God’s peace includes putting our focus and attention on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise”.
When I take time to pray, to be thankful and focus on good things, I do experience more of God’s peace inside. It helps me to realize that no matter what is happening at the moment, seemingly good or bad, that it is temporary and passing. What lasts forever is God and his Kingdom of which Jesus invites us to be a part. St. Catherine of Siena is an example of what we can aspire to when she said, “All the way to heaven is heaven because He said I am the Way.”
I hope and pray that we will all experience God’s love, peace, and joy to a greater degree this Thanksgiving and every day!

Kathryn Marcellino is a member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCDS). She is the author of How to Pray the Rosary as a Pathway to Contemplation. She offers instruction and resources on the Catholic faith through her website at http://www.CatholicSpiritualDirection.org as well as offering spiritual direction and answering questions on the Catholic faith via e-mail. She is married to author, speaker and musician, Dennis Marcellino.


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